Monthly Archives: October 2013

Natacha’s Fiend Features – The Wolf Man

beagle2

Be careful of the curse that falls on young lovers
Starts so soft and sweet and turns them to hunters
A man who’s pure of heart and says his prayers by night
May still become a wolf when the autumn moon is bright — “Howl” by Florence & The Machine

*Each month I will have a guest post from the Gothic Beaglet, Natacha.  Natacha loves creature movies and will be giving her unique take on what makes them her favorites.

For the record Mom is the reader, afterall she can actually read and has thumbs which makes turning the pages much easier.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy books – I find them most tasty.

beaglebook

I prefer stretching out on the couch watching  movies, especially ones with handsome males in them.  While mom prefers lanky, pale hairless mostly human males with sharp teeth, I like big, hulking, furry manish beasts preferably with tails.  Larry Talbot (a.k.a. the Wolfman) is my kind of man/animal hybrid.  Woof! As  a human, Larry is tall and broad chested; and as the Wolfman he has a dog snout similar to mine and big hairy feet (and you know what they say about big hairy feet – they leave big hairy paw prints).   Jury is out on whether the Wolfman has a tail though.  I’m not sure why he wears pants and a dress shirt – personally whenever mom tries to put clothes on me I make sad faces until she takes them off.

Oops, sorry being a dog I’m easily distracted.  Released in 1941, The Wolfman remains a classic like Frankenstein and Dracula due in no smart part (like in those films) to the performance of its leading actor.  Lon Chaney Jr. was so convincing as the Wolfman that he went on to portray him in all of the 40’s movies featuring Larry Talbot/the Wolfman — Frankenstein Meets the  Wolf Man (1943), The House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945) and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).  The legendary Jack Pierce did the makeup for the film, giving the Wolfman a look as frightening and  iconic as his other famous monster creations.

Part of the appeal of The Wolfman to the viewer is that he is a sympathetic creature.  Larry Talbot is a victim of circumstance – someone who while trying to perform a good deed is instead cursed.  He is confused and tortured when he discovers he is a murderous beast and tries to warn and protect those he loves.  But despite his conscience and his best intentions, his emotions are no match to his strong primal impulses once he changes.

Unlike his fellow monsters Dracula and Frankenstein, the Wolf Man was not a literary creation before he graced the movie screen.  And although the poem that is recited several times in the movie sounds like a wise old woman’s warning to misbehaving children passed through time, it was an invention of screenwriter Curt Siodmak.

Larry Talbot and his hairy alter ego have since gone on to inspire writers.  In Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors short  story collection,  Larry, still a werewolf but now also a detective,  is featured in two stories — one a humorous imagining of what would happen if Larry met H.P. Lovecraft’s Innsmouth inhabitants and the other a sly nod to creature movies and Baywatch (you’ll be surprised how peanut butter and jelly this combination is, swear).   The poem, with a slight alteration, is included in Florence & The Machine’s song Howl, which brilliantly captures the um, primal urges of  new lovers.

Grab your favorite human, some snacks and curl up on the couch for an evening with The Wolfman.  But beware the full moon, say your prayers when the wolfbane blooms, and keep some silver bullets nearby just in case you get unexpected guests.

Short Haunting Tales for Halloween

wicked

“We find delight in the most loathsome things” –   Charles Baudelaire

‘Tis the season for all things that howl, bite and go bump in the night. Here are a few fun, dark and tasty treats to help you get in the mood for the real most wonderful time of the year.

1. Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne probably already evokes terror in you – just not in the right way. You probably break into a sweat remembering being trapped dissecting The Scarlet Letter in your high school English lit class.  However this story, which also includes Hawthorne’s obsession with revealing the hypocrisy of his Puritan ancestors’ beliefs , has a truly darkly delicious and humorous side.  Young Goodman Brown, a pious and holy man from a long line of pious and holy men, takes a walk at dusk with the Devil into the woods. During this walk, everything he believes about himself, his family and his neighbors will be called into question.

2. Black Mill Cove by Lisa Morton (in the Dark Delicacies short story collection). A lone abalone hunter sets off on a pre-dawn hunting trip miles away from his campsite in a solitary ravine.  But if he was truly alone, we wouldn’t have a story now would we.  Lisa Morton is a gifted storyteller who keeps you guessing.  This story has a crisp pace that kept me pushing through to the end despite it being 3 a.m.  I was not going to sleep until I knew what happened and I had troubled sleep after I did.

3. All My Bloody Things by Steve Niles (also in the Dark Delicacies short story collection). Cal MacDonald makes my girl parts happy in a way no junkie ever should. Okay this addict may have a mouth like a sailor and the manners of a 5 year old in the ball pit at Chucky E. Cheese, but he has mostly a heart of gold (mixed with a cocktail of well whatever he can get his hands on that day) and a gift for dealing with the supernatural and weird.  This time Cal has ended up on the wrong end of a dinner menu. Can our boy work around his blues, painkillers and whiskey haze in time to escape becoming a cannibal’s dessert.  I sure hope so or my girl parts will be very sad.

4. The Midnight Meat Train by Clive Barker. This short story is about Kaufman, a man whose love for his beloved New York City has been tarnished by her daily tragedies; and Mahogany, a man who has been chosen to fulfill a sacred duty.  They cross paths one night on the Midnight Meat Train of the title. Clive is not for the faint of heart and this story is not short on blood, body parts or gore. However, he is worth the read even if squeamish because he is one of the most elegant and gifted writers (regardless of what genre the other writers are writing in) writing today.  Part of the brilliance of Clive’s writing is that he engages all the senses in his writing – the reader feels, sees, touches and even smells the horror in this story. He is also fearless and without wavering will take his material as far as it needs to go – pushing all boundaries and breaking all taboos necessary to stay true to the story.  My personal recommendation is make sure to chase this story with a shot of Looney Tunes Cartoons to keep the nightmares away.

5. The Monarch of the Glen by Neil Gaiman (in the Fragile Things collection). There are characters that stay with you forever.  You are sad when a book ends because they have become like best friends or family and you don’t want your time with them to end.   Shadow from American Gods was that sort of character for me which is why my poor cat was named after him.  Being named after literary characters (Mom’s elfin name for instance) is sort of a tradition in my family – so deal kitty boy deal. This short story picks up several years after Shadow’s adventures with Wednesday. While travelling the world, trying to both find himself and forget where he comes from, he finds himself in Scotland. His is offered a job as a bouncer at a private party by a small man who refers to both Shadow and himself as a monster. Despite, his gut telling him everything about the offer is suspect, Shadow takes the gig. He, may or may not be a Norse God and/or a monster, but he will have to fight monsters if he is going to make it out of Scotland alive.

Shadow - I'm a God, I demand food sacrifices.

 
Shadow – I’m a God, I demand food sacrifices.